Crystal Palace will not grant Julian Speroni a final appearance at Selhurst Park despite his imminent departure after 15 years.
The goalkeeper, 39, has made 405 appearances for Palace since his arrival from Dundee in 2004, but even with them guaranteed a mid-table finish he will not make a 406th — and largely because of the Argentinian’s influence.
They host Bournemouth on Sunday in the final fixture of both teams’ seasons, after which 12th-placed Palace may find themselves either one position higher or lower in the Premier League.
It was also this week confirmed that the long-serving Jason Puncheon is to leave the club after six years, but it is the loss of the popular Speroni that will be most widely felt, not that the “touched” Roy Hodgson is remotely under pressure to bow to sentiment.
“Those sentimental moments are debatable, whether they’re the right approach or not,” the Palace manager said.
“But certainly I didn’t have a decision to make anyway on that front. Julian’s a consummate professional.
“He made it clear to me we should carry on approaching this game in the professional way we’ve approached all games this season; that he doesn’t see any reason he should be the second goalkeeper or put onto the field of play just because it’s the last day of the season.
“That tells you more about Julian Speroni as a professional and a person than many other things that are going to be said about him. I was actually quite touched by the fact he wasn’t looking for that gesture where he’d come on for five to 10 minutes and the crowd will go wild.
“He’s taken that out of my hands by making it clear to me that’s what he wants. I’m sure he will get a fantastic reception; he and Jason (who had been on loan at Huddersfield) will be presented to the supporters at the end of the game.”
Palace will also assess Scott Dann’s fitness before selecting their starting XI to host Bournemouth.
Fellow defenders James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp are already ruled out by injury, making Dann’s availability even more significant.
“Scott left training (on Friday) feeling a slight strain so we’ll have to look at that on Saturday,” Hodgson added.
“That’s the only (potential injury) that can possibly be added to those we’ve had for the past few weeks.
“We’d love to win and finish off the season in style. It’s been a very good season.”
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